house cat. However, the brief Book of Baruch, found in the Apocrypha, does mention cats prowling about the temples of pagan gods. Apparently the author of Baruch associated cats with idolatrous religions, which might help explain why ancient Israel did not have a high opinion of domestic cats. Israelites never forgot they had once been slaves in Egypt, nor did they forget that their cruel Egyptian masters had been fond of cats.
Lions and leopards, as already noted, were another matter. In biblical times, both cats lived in Israel, and while they were on occasion a threat to human life, mostly they were admired for their magniﬁcence and swiftness. Samson, the hulking strongman of Israel, killed a lion with his bare hands, and the spunky shepherd boy David (later king of Israel) also felled a lion that was threatening his ﬂocks. It was the prophet Jeremiah who posed the classic question “Can a leopard change his spots?”